1..2..3..4..steps. Take a little more with You

It’s been a while since my last blog post! It looks like I’ll be blogging more often as I step into these next thousand cubits of my life =)

It’s been a great 3 months back home. Although it was pretty challenging adjusting to America, I believe I received the rest and rejuvenation that I needed. I’m blessed to have been a part of a great work the Lord has done here in this area! I’m thankful for being able to catch up and chill with old friends and mentors, and also for new relationships/friendships as well. And most of all, it was awesome to catch up and witness the Lord’s grace over my mom and sisters life. Seriously, blessed beyond measure to see them in greater heights and greater depths of intimacy with the Lord.

In about 18 hours, I’ll be on a plane headed to Seoul, Korea. The last time I went to Korea was 11 years ago for about two weeks! I’ll be going to Korea for three years for various reasons. The main reason is for Seminary. I’ll be a student at Torch Trinity Theological Seminary going for an M.Div. Many here at home have asked me these two questions: 1) Why Seminary?, 2) Why in Korea?

Why Seminary?

“I’ll never go to Cemetery (Seminary)! I don’t want to be around people of dead religion. That’s so religious. I have the Holy Spirit and many amazing experiences. Why stuff my head and waste my time?”

Yep…that was me about a year and a half ago. Haha…so embarrassed right now. Oh how immature I was haha. The problem with this was that I was separating walking in the Spirit and walking in the Word (Truth). I saw it as two ends of a spectrum. Now I realize that I needed to pursue and walk in the fullness of both. Oh yea and also, I was just too lazy to dig deep into the Word of God. I realized that true longing and hunger will lead to discipline. Everyone longs and eagerly desires to go deep in the Word of God. Spiritual MATURITY comes when we actually follow through with our desires in discipline. A lot of my faith was based on my experiences, which is great! But I realized how much I personally needed to be grounded and equipped with the Word. I failed to realize the gravity of importance of what the Word of God was. Or should I say…..WHO the Word of God was! Just let this verse sink in for a little bit…

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

In my time in the Gambia, we had worship service every morning and evening, except Saturdays. Missionary Han really challenged me and put me in a place where I had to preach 3-4 times a week. Not only that, but also led a couple bible studies with various groups. Not only that, but also had to teach a biblical worldview class to college aged students. With these opportunities, at times I felt like I did a pretty good job. Honestly, I gave it my best and I can say that I “preached” out of a pure heart. As I look back, I realized that most of my preaching, teaching, and sharing were majority based on my EXPERIENCES and TESTIMONIES. Not that those are bad, but I rarely dug deep into actually studying and delivering the RICHES OF THE WORD. I even had great points to share, and searched for scripture verses to back up and support my points. I look back at some of my messages…and I feel embarrassed hahaha. I realized how much scripture I shared out of context, and how much verses I used that actually had nothing to do with the REAL meaning of the scripture =\. I wasn’t giving my Gambian brothers and sisters the DEEP RICHES OF HIS WORD. I was just giving them little appetizers as their main course.

What I realized was that Missionary Han, who had been to seminary 8+ years and knows his stuff, encouraged me EVERY time after I preached. I’m pretty sure he saw and identified my mistakes and miscontextualization all the time. He never corrected me, but always encouraged me. He was secretly training me. And that really humbled me. He could have critiqued and embarrassed me every single time, but he didn’t. He encouraged me to keep practicing and keep going. WOW. God definitely gave me a newfound humility and holy fear in what it means to truly PREACH. It was time to stop playing around with this sword.

So that’s part of the reason why I felt convicted to go to seminary. To be able to give my brothers and sisters in the Gambia the riches and the depths of His word. Not only for my own sake, but for the sake of the lives of the people God will place me in.

Why in Korea?

Several reasons. As I researched around as to which seminary to go to, some missionaries suggested Torch Trinity in Korea. Korea was never on my grid and it was pretty random. But I looked into it. I liked what I saw. It was a Seminary that was focused on Missions. Many of the students there are international students, and many already have a heart focused on missions. BTW, everything is in English, not Korean hahah. Also, what caught my eye was that this school had a special track called “Center for Islamic studies”. This really interested me because of Gambia being a ~90% Islamic country. I later found out some friends of mine were actually students at Torch!

When I was in Gambia, we had to host many short term teams from around the world. One particular team came from Korea from a church called Onnuri church. It was a team of ~25 people. We spent a lot of time together and became friends. I asked them, “hey have you heard of a school called Torch Trinity?”. They said, “OH YEA! That’s the seminary that is attached to the same building as our church!”. What I also found out was that Onnuri church and Trinity Seminary (where majority of my ODPC pastors graduated from) in Chicago partnered to birth Torch Trinity. Sweet. So the team members told me, “Yea if you come to Torch, we will take care of you. We can help you look for a place and we can help you get situated and we can even help you find jobs if you need to work!” I was like….woooow thweeeet!

I got tight with their team leader. She actually works with a missions leader at her church who specializes in training and equipping long-term missionaries. She told me that she would love to connect me to him and get him to mentor me! When she told me who the man was, I died. His name is Jae-won Lee. Guess who he is? He was a missionary in the Gambia for 20+ years!!!! He was the one who started West Africa Mission (WAM), the organization I worked under. He passed it on to Missionary Han, who I partnered with this past year. So in Korea, I look forward to meeting up with, sharing, and learning from the one who had spent 20+ years in the Gambia. Pretty cool right?

So yea. I am so excited for this next chapter of my life. Who woulda thought I’d end up in Korea for seminary? Hahah whoa. I do have a prayer request!

A couple weeks ago, I watched Les Miserable with my mom and sister. Throughout the movie, I knew everything that was going on. By the end of the movie, I got up and smiled and said, “OK! Let’s go home now.” I looked to my right and saw that my mom and sister were both weeping. I then looked around and saw that majority of people in the theater were either crying or had puffy eyes. I was like….uhhhhhhh is that something wrong with me?!? I knew what the movie was about. I knew the parts that were sad. I knew what scenes WOULD make people cry. But it just didn’t affect me like it did everyone else. Why am I sharing this?

My hope and prayer is that when I go to seminary, I won’t be one who learns and knows everything and wont be affected by it. I want to be in a place where I am so sensitive to what I learn, and I want to be rocked to the core of my heart. I don’t want to be a person who just “gets it” and understands in my head. I want to be transformed by the power of His Word as I learn and go deeper. Basically, I don’t want to be like how I was after watching Les Miserable hahahaha. Lame and corny, I know. But that’s the best way I can explain it haha.

Please keep me in prayer! I have orientation January 21, and classes begin February 25.  It’s going to be a great new season of discipleship (being discipled and discipling), intimacy, greater depths, pruning, deep relationships, new friendships, and more!

Keep in touch! Thanks =)

Love in Christ,

John Park

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Why me?

Whats up!

In less than a week, I will be back in the states. It’s been 13 months here in the Gambia and…I can’t believe this year flew by so quick. I’m pretty sure that I have felt every emotion possible this past year haha. Even now, I’m excited to reunite with friends and family, but really sad to be leaving the nation that has stolen my heart. It looks like I have to leave my heart here once again and reunite my body to it sometime in the future =)

So maybe you’d expect me to know a little bit more about ‘missions’…but that’s not the case.  Actually, as I reflect back on this past year…I realize that I know nothing. I know a lot less than I thought I did. I don’t know the ‘right way’ to “do” missions, and I don’t know that there IS a right way. There have been so many moments of pure glory, awe, amazement, and enlightenment…but there also have been so many moments of discouragement, confusion, burnout, hurt. I have a LOT to learn. But I am SO filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. This past year changed my life. Yea, I think I got rocked..haha. For this last post here, I just wanted to share something that was so big for me that I’m just beginning to realize.

This past year, I do believe that God has touched and transformed many lives here in the Gambia. And I do believe that he has used me and included me in his plans here. But He didn’t have to. He didn’t need to. The only reason I believe He used me here is because I believe that He desired to. This is the main thing I wanted to share:

God didn’t just use me for ministry and missions. God also used ministry and missions for me. I know that sounds selfish…but I don’t know any other reason why God would use me. Actually, I believe for all of us, God doesn’t just use us for ministry/missions. God also uses ministry/missions for us. To shape us, mold us, sanctify us.  To get us to depend on Him. To develop our character. And YES….character matters! To God, it’s important. Why? Because for me, I believe in the power and necessity of relational ministry. And Godly character goes hand in hand with effective relational ministry. And relational ministry of so essential for missions. May His Kingdom come on earth (Gambia in my case) as it is in Heaven…but actually….May His Kingdom come here in my heart first. Let His Kingdom release through me, from the inside out.

So basically, this past year was FIRE. But not the kind of fire that I was expecting. The kind of fire that I experienced was the kind that burns and most people don’t like: the refiner’s fire. Here in the Gambia, I had to work with many people. Many missionaries. Many gifted people. Many passionate people. But at the end of the day……many broken people, including myself. I believe God didn’t call many missionaries here because of their giftings and anointings, but I believe God has called many here because of their brokenness. God loves to use the broken. And when broken, messed up people all get together to serve for His Kingdom….haha….missions isn’t so pretty. It’s tough. I love this quote I read on Sek’s instagram. Its so simple and profound:

“God doesn’t give you the people you want, he gives you the people you need. To help you, to hurt you, to leave you, to love you and to make you the person you were meant to be.”

So good!

I’m not saying missions is all about me hahaha. But the truth is that God really doesn’t NEED me. So I can’t figure out any other reason as to why He did other than Him wanting to shape me. I wasn’t qualified because of my giftings, experience, accomplishments or whatever. God Himself is the one who qualified me. And my qualification was that I’m a broken sinner needing to be in the hands of the Carpenter Savior who makes all things new. The author and perfector of my faith. God is not limited to human beings. I believe that I’m here because God WANTS to use me and He who began a good work is bringing it into completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God didn’t just use Jonah for Nineveh…He used Nineveh to shape a disobedient man to become obedient.

God didn’t just use Moses for Egypt…He used Egypt to shape a timid man to be one of boldness. One insecure in speech into a spokesman and mediator for a nation.

God didn’t just use Gideon to lead the Israelites against the Midianites…He used the mission given to Gideon to shape a man trapped in unbelief to become a man of faith and confidence. To shape a man of fear to become a Mighty Warrior.

God didn’t just use ME for Gambia…He used Gambia to….

…turn me away from hopelessness and cynicism and instead place my confidence in the Living Hope.

…shatter my unbelief and call out the God-given faith I always had living within me.

…shape me to become LOVE focused instead of POWER focused.

…change the fear of man within me into the fear of God.

…reveal my secret desire for the affirmation of man and realize that my affirmation comes from God and it’s more than enough.

…purge the spirit of criticism and pride and “I can do this so much more effectively than him/her” attitude and instead led me to the way of HONOR.

…turn me away from depending on gifts and calling and lead me toward depending on Jesus.

…distinguishing between comfort leading to slothfulness and true rest leading to restoration.

…turn me away from achieving Holiness rooted in works and human effort, into holiness rooted in the revelation of God’s love for me.

…and sooooooo much more.

God simply does not NEED us. HE didn’t need Jonah, Moses, Gideon, or me. If God was in the business of choosing people based on human qualifications, He certainly could have used others! But He chose Jonah. He chose Moses. He chose Gideon. HE chose me. And if you are broken yourself, He will likely choose you =) He delighted in using us…because He had other plans to carry out in the process.

Anyways, I believe its still just the beginning. God is still doing and is going to do so much within me, the leaders of this nation, and the nation itself. God is in control, and He is never worried about what He has to work with. And He won’t dispose of us. Just like the potter remolded a broken pot instead of throwing it away and digging out new clay in Jeremiah 18, God is doing the same with me. We don’t disqualify ourselves from ministry and missions. Only God has the authority to do so. But He wont. He won’t disqualify us. He will use ministry and missions to mold and shape us.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

God bless you all! Thank you all so much for your prayers, support, friendship, encouragements. I’m so filled with gratitude and humbled that I got to experience God this past year. Thank you for being part of what God did and is doing in my life. You guys are the best!!!!

Can’t wait to see you all! See you all soon =)

Love in Him,

John

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Prophesy

A father here by the name of Pastor Steven passed on these two prophetic words to me the other day. He and many in this nation have witnessed the beginnings of fulfillment of these prophecies in recent years. I just wanted to share this with you…just to encourage you that your prayers that you have sown into this nation were heard and are coming into fruition in Jesus name.

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Prophecy for Gambia – January 13,1998

The Lord says to the Believers in Gambia, “I AM getting ready to pour out My Spirit upon your nation. For I AM going to bring the secular community to the doorstep of the church. I AM getting ready to pour out signs and wonders and miracles upon the church of Gambia. (I did not know there was a river which flowed through Gambia), but the Lord gave me a vision that He is going to flow a river of His Spirit through Gambia – an outpouring such as has never been seen in the history of the nation! I will pour out My Spirit upon the youth, and they will prophesy and come forth as a mighty army which will effect Senegal and all of West Africa. I have heard your prayers, says the Lord, and I have seen your tears. I AM getting ready to answer them, says the Lord.

Given through Cindy Jacobs

Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

Dear Brethren,

In my prayer time the past two days, the Lord spoke to me six times the word, “Gambia”. I did not know where Gambia was, but got out my globe to look and see if I could find it. I had already told our staff that we were to focus on the nation of Gambia in our next GI (Generals of Intercession) Newsletter, which goes to approximately 50 nations. There will be a massive amount of prayer going up for the body of Christ in the next few months! Be encouraged! God has heard your prayers!

With deepest Christian love,

Cindy Jacobs

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Vision for Gambia, Africa – January 20, 1998 (7 days later…)

I saw a huge huge wave. It was about to hit some place. As I continued to pray and see this wave develop in my spirit, God started speaking. He said the wave of revival is going to hit the Gambia and then overflow into Guinea Bissau. He said that wave was going to hit my school as well. This wave is going not only to change the outlook of Christianity in the Gambia, but its going to sweep lots of junk too. The miracles are going to be clearly and visibly demonstrated.

Still on the wave, God started showing me how he would cause this wave of His Spirit to hit all of north Africa. Specifically, He said, “Gambia is going to be my launching pad for reaching north Africa, and Gambia shall no longer be called THE LADY OF THE KINGDOMS.” (Isaiah 47:5)(In the Muslim world and in the Kingdom of darkness).

After that, the Lord showed in the spirit what the ruling spirit over the nation of the Gambia is:

In my spirit I saw this enormous crocodile looking creature hovering over a Christian meeting. As I addressed it in the spirit it reluctantly moved away. It can’t prevail against the church.

Emmanuel Swaray

World Impact Bible Institute

St. Cathrines, Canada

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Faith or unbelief? I choose faith. I have even witnessed myself with my own eyes many signs, wonders, and miracles here in the Gambia. In no way is it taboo or “not normal” here in the Gambia.

The first word said a move of the spirit will move from Gambia through Senegal and through West Africa. The second word said a move will go from Gambia to Guinea Bissau and hit North Africa. Both Senegal and Guinea Bissau are neighboring countries of the Gambia. I said NORTH AFRICAAAAAAA. Can anyone say 10/40 window? Can anyone say Matthew 24:14?

In the second prophecy, he said he saw a crocodile looking creature hovering over a meeting. So I looked into it and found out there is a deep significance in crocs here in the Gambia. Here in the Gambia, there are a several crocodile pools where tourists go and visit and stuff. Little do tourists know that these crocodile pools are demonically infested. People would go to these pools, and drink the water (super dirty water), wash themselves in the water, and take some of the croc water home. They do this to do well in school, for the barren to have a child, good luck for futbol games, physical healing, etc. I even heard a testimony from a pastor that his wife went to one of the pools with her students at a public school for a field trip. To her surprise, ALL the children except the 3 Christian students got out an empty bottle and filled their bottles with the water to take home. Some even washed their faces and drank it then on the spot.

There is a croc pool near the capital and they have these cemented areas next to the pool with a wooden stool. Women who cannot have children go sit on the stool in hopes to have a child.

Anyways, the crocodile symbolizes idolatry. Partnership with demonic spirits for favor (though they don’t know that). Crocodiles are very well respected and feared here in the Gambia. It is one of the “honored” animals. So in Gambian culture, there are stories and beliefs that if ever someone approaches a white crocodile, they will have much prosperity in their lives. Even way back in the days, crocodiles were seen as idols and gods. There were even crocodile islands where the ideas of worshipping and fearing crocodiles occurred in the past. The fact is that this form of animism has transferred through generations upon generations in the Gambia.

Worshipping idols and belief in spiritual power coming from objects and animals is not a rare thing to find here. Actually, somehow this culture has found its way into Catholicism. Most Catholics here have what they call “jalangos” hanging on the doorposts of their house. They are straight up idols. Unfortunately, people in Gambia see Christians and Catholics as the same….even though they are VERY different. So there is a huge stereotype in the Gambia saying that “Christians” are people who are drunks, worship idols, and are only Christian for money. A big hole to dig ourselves out of……haha.

But check this out. All the MONEY (coins and paper money) have pictures of crocodiles all over them! Also, a huge picture of a crocodile is on Gambia’s most popular beer bottle : Julbrew beer. Money? And Alcohol? Crocodile spirit hovering over a church?

Anyways, God is on the move. As the prophetic word says, “it can’t prevail against the church.” Generational curses and covenants are recently being identified and being prayed against. Groups of Christian leaders are visiting these cultural islands and croc pools to cut and sever these generational curses. But it’s not enough just to pray and declare it be cut off. The church will not prevail against this spirit until the people they live in the opposite spirit. In other words, the impure intent for money needs to go. Drunkenness needs to go. We are Christians here need to reform this false stereotype the community is saying about us.

Please take some time to intercede for this nation. Maybe this stuff is hard to believe for us westerners. But here in Africa, its strange NOT to believe.

God is doing it for His glory!

Love in Him,

John

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Discipline /// Ramadan

A couple days ago, I went to a shop and greeted the owner. After our greetings he asked me, “So are you keeping your fast or have you broke it?”. I then told him that I wasn’t fasting and that I was a Christian and that we don’t partake in Ramadan. Another day I was out and a Muslim friend came up to me and asked me for money to buy food to break his fast when the sun goes down. We then had an interesting conversation. Here’s how our conversation went (more like a Q&A session haha):

“So why are you fasting?”

“Because it’s Ramadan.”

“Why do you partake in Ramadan?”

“Oh, because I am a Muslim.”

“So…what is Ramadan? What do Muslims do?”

“Ramadan is a 30 day period where we fast daily from sun up to sun down. When it turns 7PM, we can break our fast and eat.”

“Oh ok. So why do you fast? What’s the reason for fasting?”

“You see…all of us we sin so much. During the period of Ramadan, it is a time to purify ourselves from our sins and ask Allah to forgive us. It is a time of rededication to live a righteous life. So the more faithful we are to fasting in this time, the more Allah will forgive our sins.”

“Oh interesting. So why do you want your sins to be forgiven?”

“It’s very important! Because I want to go to heaven and I don’t want to go to hell.”

“Ohhhhhhh ok. So if you have sin, you can’t go to heaven?”

“Well, we have to fast and repent. Allah is merciful and will forgive us. If he chooses to forgive us, we can go to heaven.”

“Is there sin in heaven?”

“No, heaven is perfect with no sin.”

“So can you go to heaven with sin you did not repent for?”

“Well, it depends. Allah is merciful. When we die, he will weigh our good deeds and sins on a scale. This will determine what will happen to us.”

“Really? So if your good deeds are many and your sins are small, you can go to heaven?”

“YES.”

“So even if our sin is small, we can still go to heaven where there is no sin?”

“That is up to Allah. He is merciful. We cannot go to heaven with sin, that is why we need to repent and purify ourselves of all our sins through fasting and repenting. But in the end, it is still up to Allah to allow us to go to heaven or not.”

“I see I see. So do you know when and how you are going to die?”

“Only Allah knows.”

“OK. Well….since we don’t know that…what happens if you have sinned, and then you die? You did not have time to repent and ask for forgiveness, and you have died with unrepented sin. Then since you still have sin, what will happen to you?”

“Allah is the judge. He will determine our outcome by our scales of good deeds and faithfulness versus sins.”

“Can I share with you what I believe?”

“Sure.”

“I believe that no matter what, we cannot go to heaven with even the smallest sin in our lives because Heaven is perfect and sinless. Us human beings cannot do anything to wash away our sins. No matter how much we fast or pray, we cannot work for it. Only through the shed blood of someone who has never sinned can our sins be washed away. And that perfect one who sacrificed himself to die on a cross so that you and I would be able to go to heaven without the penalty if sin…is JESUS CHRIST.”

“OK. That is what you believe. Thank you very much. God bless you.”

…and then he left because I didn’t give him the dinner money he wanted.

So these days, I have been thinking a lot about Ramadan. In this 30 day period of abstinence from eating, drinking anything (I’ve even seen people spit out their saliva cuz they cant drink that as well supposedly), smoking, and sex, only one question comes to mind: WHY?????????????????

As I observed my Muslim friends and community carry out their practices and beliefs, I couldn’t help but notice their level of DISCIPLINE. They seemed very dedicated to partaking in Ramadan. They seemed SO disciplined and serious in their fasting duties and obligations. What surprised me most was that they continued to carry out their daily work. Even the hard labor work such as farming and construction…they do it without complaint. Again: WHY? Where does this type of discipline come from? Why is the majority of this country so dedicated to fasting and Ramadan?

Then as I began to think, observe, and even talk to some friends…I found 3 main reasons why our Muslim friends are so committed, determined, and DISCIPLINED in their fasting:

1)   FEAR – What I mean by FEAR are two things. The first is obvious: the fear of going to hell. They know that if they die with unrepented sin, they cannot go to heaven. I realized that the reason why they fast so diligently is because they have to cancel out the sins that they have committed. If not, they will die with sin, which will not give them access into heaven. Basically, I see it like a spiritual detox. The more they abstain and fast, the more pure they become. The second is the fear of man. I talked to a friend and she said she didn’t even want to partake in Ramadan and the only reason she is doing it was because of what her family, friends and community will say about her and to her. So she just gives in to doing something that she doesn’t even want to do. I realized that MANY partake in Ramadan because everyone around them is doing it. So yea: Fear of punishment (hell) and fear of man.

2)   SELFISHNESS – I learned that many of my Muslim friends couldn’t grasp that selfishness was a sin. When I ask any Muslim here why they want to go to heaven, here are the most popular responses I have received: I want to go to heaven because I can enjoy paradise with peace and no suffering. I want to go to heaven because I will have many wives. I want to go to heaven because there I will be able to drink alcohol (yup, that’s what many here believe). I want to go to heaven because it will be a better, wealthier life than I am living now. Basically, ALL of these reasons for wanting to go to heaven is for the benefit of SELF. I have yet to hear ONE reason having to do with wanting to go to heaven for Allah. I have never heard “I want to go to heaven because it will make Allah happy and He wants me in heaven the most. I want to go to heaven because Allah will be glorified. I want to go to heaven because I can spend eternity in relationship with Allah.” So I learned that the reason why our Muslim friends are so dedicated in fasting especially during Ramadan is also because of a great desire to go to heaven, but for self-pleasing motives.

3)   CULTURE – the last reason why they are so disciplined is because its just what they grew up with. Even the little children here recite verses from the Qu’ran on loudspeaker every week, but they have no idea what they are saying. In the same way, many have grown up fasting without knowing why. That’s why when I ask my Muslim friends why they are fasting, a lot of them give the simple answer: “Because it’s Ramadan. Why aren’t you?”.

But the point of this blog post is not just to know the roots of why Muslims are disciplined in fasting during Ramadan. The main point of this blog post is to ask this: Why aren’t Christians as disciplined? I can’t help but see that when you look at the level of discipline of a Muslim and a Christian….it’s very different. When I think about reading the Qu’ran and reading the Bible, praying, going to mosque or church, amount of time spent for God, etc…..I see that the majority of Muslims are far more disciplined than believers are. Why aren’t majority of Christians as disciplined?

But check this out. The ROOT of discipline for our Muslim friends is fear of punishment and selfishness. Then what is the ROOT of discipline for us believers?:

LOVE.

I believe that it’s love that motivates us to seek God with all of our hearts. It’s love that creates the hunger in us to desire more of God. It’s love that leads us to know Him more through His Word. It’s love that gets us to go to church because of a hunger to be fed. REVELATION OF GOD’S LOVE FOR US, AND THEN US LOVING GOD IN RETURN AND GIVING HIM WHAT HE DESERVES. I believe this is the ROOT of discipline for followers of Jesus Christ.

OK. Now let me share with you the questions that have been ringing in my head again and again and again and again:

What if Christians loved God as much as Muslims feared punishment? What if our love for God matched their fear? What if our discipline matched theirs? What will the Gambia look like? What will this world look like?

In this year of Ramadan, this is the main thing I have been so convicted of. So as I was praying through this…the Lord took me deeper and revealed some more things about myself. As I began to pray for God to break fear and selfishness and even expose fear and selfishness to my Muslim friends, God began to convict my heart by saying, “John, you gotta remove the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the speck out of theirs.” What this meant was, “John, you gotta uproot any fear and selfishness out of your own life before trying to uproot the fear and selfish roots out of others.” I duno yo, but that hit me pretty dang hard.

How can we contend for revival is there is no revival in our own heart?

How can we pray for holiness to mark this land if we are not living in holiness?

HOW CAN WE FIGHT TO UPROOT ANY STRONGHOLD IF THOSE SAME STRONGHOLDS ARE DEEPLY ROOTED IN OUR OWN HEARTS???

How can I pray for the roots of fear and selfishness to be removed from my Muslim friends if those same strands are hanging around in my own heart?

I’m not saying that my life of discipline is coming from fear of going to hell. But I definitely saw that some of my spiritual disciplines were rooted in the FEAR OF MAN. Fear of being “left behind” while all my other friends are “advancing” in their giftings and callings. Fear of not being aligned with the will of God while others are being used so powerfully. Fear of what people might think if I come back home from the Gambia and haven’t grown at all in my prayer life and bible reading. I know. Sooooo stupid right? BUT DOES ANYONE FEEL ME ON THIS? AM I THE ONLY ONE?????

And Selfishness. Man. Are MY motives for doing things really all for God to be glorified? Are MY motives pure and selfless? What REALLY motivates me to post these blog posts? To glorify God or to “prove” something to man? What REALLY motivates me to post spiritual status updates on facebook? What is the ROOT? Is it pure? Oh man. These are some of the things God has revealed to me during this time of Ramadan.

But for me, I’m not gonna fast my way to canceling out these sins. I’m gonna cling to the Grace of God, and I’m gonna embrace these times of refinement.

Lord, may we be people who are deeply rooted in love. May everything we do be deeply rooted in love. May it be a pure love. May it be a Holy love. Lord, may we be a people of joyful discipline. Discipline rooted in love. Give us raw hunger for your word. Give us a relentless longing to know You more, so that we may love You more, so that we may give You what You deserve. May our love for You be greater than their fear of punishment. Holy Spirit, please reveal and uproot the strands hanging around in our own hearts. And may it lead to uprooting the same strongholds in the nation and people around us. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Much love everyone! Miss you all!

John

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06.18.2012 – A Birthday to NEVER FORGET

Greetings everyone!!!! Thank you for all the birthday wishes and encouragements!!! Miss you all so much and am so thankful for you all!!!

AIGHT real quick…let me share with you how God was so good to me today and made this birthday one to never forget.

As you know….since last Saturday I have been battling through Malaria. So today (Monday)….i felt fine in the morning and afternoon. I thought that I was good to go. But little did I know that….Malaria actually “sleeps” during the day and “wakes up” during the night. Well…..the malaria came back with a VENGEANCE around 6:00 PM. It was….BRUTAL. I’d honestly say the worst sickness I have ever experienced in my life. (Sorry mom! dont worry! but keep reading!)

So I went to my room to lie down. My body was blazing hot I thought I was in a furnace. I kept saying to myself for some reason “I shouldn’t be alone I shouldn’t be alone I shouldn’t be alone”. But another voice kept saying, “nah John don’t go out don’t show your weakness. don’t be a burden to people.” (By the way….how many of us have bought into this lie straight from Satan before???) Well today, I bought into it haha. I stayed in alone.

Basically, I was suffocating. I was on fire and I could barely breathe. I poured water on myself but it didn’t help. And then….straight up the battle began…

First this thought came to my mind: “Oh my gosh this is it. I’m going to die from malaria…”

Then after that thought came this thought: “God this is too much please just take me now if your not going to heal me please.” (I was desperate…)

Then finally….a vision came into my mind (seriously): I saw myself in the room with rope tied around my neck and I was attempting suicide. In this vision a man name Daniel came into the room and rescued me and I lived. (A short term mission team is here for 2 weeks from Korea. One of their members is Daniel).

Uhhh…..and then all the sudden fear gripped me. I became suddenly afraid because I kept saying to myself: “How could I ever let these thoughts come into my mind??? Where the heck did these thoughts come from???” You see….I had NEVER EVER thought about suicide EVER.

So I prayed, “SPIRIT OF DEATH BE GONE IN THE NAME OF JESUS!!!”

But I still felt darkness around and was afraid to be honest. So in desperation I cried GOD PLEASE HELP ME.

So I was lying down and I just landed my hand on the table next to me and my hand landed on my bible. Then all the sudden “EXODUS 15:3” came up in my mind (I had NO IDEA WHAT THIS VERSE WAS)….and then I turned to it and it said this:

“THE LORD IS A WARRIOR. THE LORD IS HIS NAME”

So I declared that over myself and prayed that My Lord fights for me. He is a warrior and I am His.

RIGHT AFTER THAT…..DANIEL (from my vision) comes in…..lays his hands on me……prays for me…..and says lets got to dinner. UHHHHHHHHHH WORD?????

So I went to dinner….but I was still suffering and in pain. I was just lying down in the house. And then the team and Pastor Han and Samoneem sang happy birthday to me hahah. After that I forced myself to eat because I felt bad that they cooked good food for my birthday.

And then I said to myself: “K after this im going back to my room to rest.”

Then I fought that thought and I said “No I’m going to go to evening service. I want to worship God on my birthday.”

After dinner, I dragged myself to service….still feeling horrible. And then….I shared this testimony of what happened (what you are currently reading).  And basically I was so filled with thanksgiving, joy, and felt mad loved…..that I ended up crying haha. But the main reason why I was crying……was because while I was sharing the testimony…..I realized that I didn’t feel no pain or heat or ANYTHING anymore!!! STRAIGHT UP WITHOUT A DOUBT….GOD HEALED ME RIGHT THEN!!!! I believe He saw my tears.

WOWWWW PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!!!! Jesus is still my Messiah, my Redeemer, My Savior.

But that’s not all. After I sat down….a little 10 year old girl named Lydia handed me this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORD???????

MAN……I really want to thank God for healing me today. I really want to thank God for doing this on my birthday. I really want to thank God because HE IS A WARRIOR WHO FIGHTS FOR ME.

I want to say sorry and apologize to those that I worried a lot through this testimony. But I MUST testify and give glory to God!

 Please pray a prayer of protection over me! 

God bless!

-John

 

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Consider His Eyes…

Hello brothers and sisters! It’s been a long time.

Too much is going on inside my heart. It’s impossible to put these thoughts into words. In a nutshell, here is how I am doing: I’m pretty tired. Before, I’d be too afraid to admit burnout and confess discouragement. Pride was for sure in the way. But now…I confess that I am tired and am in need of your prayers.

Even though it hasn’t been easy these past couple months…the Lord has really been fighting for me. His providential hand is all over me.

I apologize for not explaining in detail what’s going on. It’s just wayyyy to much to explain for this blog post. Feel free to contact me and I would love to share with you what has been going on.

Today (or this past week) has been one of those “I don’t want to do anything or talk to anyone” kind of days (weeks). But today, I was cleaning my room and came across this little encouragement. I must say…there is NOTHING more refreshing, rejuvenating, renewing, restoring, and encouraging…than the powerful pure GOSPEL spearheading  an empty, tired, and discouraged heart. I pray that this little piece does more in you that it did in me. And believe me…it did, and still is, doing much in me.

“Consider the Lord’s head for a moment. Gaze upon Him.

His head is full of wisdom making perfect decisions in administering your life; thinking about each and every detail of all that concerns you. He knows where you are every second of every day. He takes all of your concerns before the Father interceding in your behalf day and night. At the same time He holds the universe together by His very thoughts, His eye is also upon you. He created everything in heaven and on the earth.

All understanding and all wisdom is in Him, working all things for good in your life. He never changes His mind concerning you, even on your bad days, even when you struggle with weak flesh and sin. On those days He thinks about who you are to become, that beautiful bride without spot or blemish.

He knows your weakness because He came in the flesh to accomplish what you could not. He never forgets any detail of your life. He knows the very instant you were born and He rejoiced at that moment. He knows all of your favorite things, your favorite color, what makes you smile, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry. He knows every hair on your head, and your very DNA, for He designed you for His pleasure. Your hopes, your dreams, your secret thoughts. And, yes He still never changes His mind about you.

He considers the desires of your heart to walk uprightly and He credits you for His righteousness. He knows your needs before you speak them. He answers before you call.

He has planned your rescue before you stumble. He endured the sweating of blood in the garden, so that you did not have to endure what you deserved. He willingly gave Himself to the centurions, so you could be free.

He took your stripes on His back that you may be healed. Determined to secure you for His own, He committed Himself to pay whatever the price required. It required everything He had.

Consider His head, scarred by the crown of jagged thorns that you should have worn.

Gaze upon Him…Consider His eyes that saw you as you were formed in your mother’s womb. He looked upon you with kindness and chose you to be His very own. He saw something in you that He found desirable and then He continues to gaze upon your life with eyes of love throughout each day.

He looks deep into your heart and sees your desire to do good and your longing to be all that He created you to be. He sees beyond your weakness as you get sidetracked with the things of this world. He sees the fervent intent of your heart for which He credits you with righteousness, despite your outward behavior which sometimes contradicts your heart’s intent.

He sees your destiny and who you are to become as you are molded and shaped in His image by the work of His Spirit.

He sees beauty in you that no other can see for He sees the beauty of Himself in you.

He sees you as His lovely bride that is spotless and unblemished without flaw or wrinkle. He sees today exactly who you will become on that day of His great feast. In His loving eyes you are already that glorious one.

He sees how you struggle for purity and to walk uprightly. He sees beyond those moments when you might fall on your journey and sees you as victorious as you someday will become. He sees your weak love for Him and it still moves His heart. He wants you to stop discounting your love for Him.

He sees your every act of kindness and plans your reward for those things done in secret, that He finds so precious. He sees every cup of cold water given and each word of encouragement you have spoken and His heart swells with pride for you. He sees those little deeds that you have deemed insignificant and He magnifies them as He shows the Father how well you are doing.

He sees your brokenness with eyes of compassion. The tears that you endure fill His eyes.

All of your concerns are ever before His eyes. Never does He turn His eyes from you for He is captivated by the beauty that He sees in you. He watches over you with the eyes of a jealous and protective Father watching over His young.

He sees you when you rise and when you are asleep. He sees you when you come and when you go. With eyes of pure love He gazes at you and cherishes you.

He saw you when you were yet a sinner and He saw qualities in you that invigorated His heart and He was compelled to pursue you for His own. With His eyes He saw the cross as a small price to pay to have friendship with you. As He hung with His arms stretched out, nailed to the cross He looked at you with eyes full of mercy and said, “I do this for you for the joy set before Me.”

His eyes have never looked back with regret. Wherever we are this day, He is still looking at us with the same eyes of grace and mercy as He did on that day. Consider His beauty. Consider His love. Consider His face. Consider His eyes. Consider His gaze. Just consider…

Although our glance steals His heart, may our ‘glances’ turn into ‘gazes’.

 

God bless you all

Much love,

John Park

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I feel….UNCOMFORTABLE, CHALLENGED, and CONVICTED

***WARNING*** : You might feel the same after reading this…

You know….you never really know if our hearts are hardened or not….until the Holy Spirit sledgehammers His way and we feel the breaking. For me, that’s just whats been going on these past couple weeks…

Don’t you absolutely LOVE when God CONFIRMS things to us? Today, God confirmed what He has been stirring up in my heart these past few months through “randomly” reading something today. I love it when things line up! He’s awakening something. Something big. Big enough to say that I’m somewhat afraid/nervous…..yet excited.

I just want to update this blog with an excerpt of a book I read today: Red Moon Rising by Pete Greig & Dave Roberts:

“The church has been gathering to say ‘Come, Holy Spirit,’ and in His grace He has come. But perhaps the tables are turning. Perhaps it is now the Holy Spirit’s turn and He is saying to us, ‘Come, holy people.’ Perhaps the Holy Spirit is waiting for us to attend His meetings in surprising places.

Just as Jesus 2,000 years ago spent His time at parties, engaging with the disreputable and apparently non-religious, so today He seems surprisingly comfortable among the crowds of partygoers, the non-religious pilgrims of our time. Perhaps He longs that we would vacate our buildings from time to time, that we would turn our temples into tabernacles, that we would become like Him, the friend of sinners. We are the light of the world, but no one wants to stare at the bulb. We are the salt of the earth, but a whole plate of the stuff will make you sick. The people of God are called to scatter and mix, to mingle and move, in influence from a position of weakness, like a small child in a large family, like yeast in a loaf, like a mustard seed beneath a pavement.

Could it be that the Holy Spirit is weary of attending our meetings and hungers for our presence at His? Perhaps He’s dreaming up a thousand new meeting places, where new sounds and sights burn the eyes and break the heart! Maybe the time has finally come when it will no longer be possible to encounter the fullness of God in Christian conferences and classic meetings. Maybe this is a new day in which the fullness of God waits us in the streets and clubs and pubs. But will we hear the  Holy Spirit saying, “Come, holy people?”

He waits with Jesus in the darkness until we come, and yet we wonder why maybe He didn’t show up the way we hoped at some of our grand events.

Of course, God will still attend our meetings – Jesus has promised to come whenever we gather in His name. And He is, let’s remember, omnipresent! But perhaps there is a weariness, even a reluctance in His heart, as He gazes back over his shoulder, out the church door, and into the street.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36 

Maybe our 24-7 war cry “Come On!” is flipping around. Maybe we’re in store for some backdraft as the angels yell “Come on!” at us while we hide in holy huddles and Christian cuddles – even in prayer rooms – so safe and sound in every way. We’ve spent much time saying, “Come, Holy Spirit”, and He came! Now, if the Spirit says, “Come,” the question is this: Will be obey?”

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SACRAMENTAL LIVING

“What does it mean to pray 24-7? It means living our whole lives, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, in the grateful awareness of God’s presence and with a desire to please Him always. Prayer is not just about the contemplative moments or the moments when I’m consciously firing words at God. The call to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) is a call to remember Christ’s presence continually in the subconscious as well as the conscious realms of my life. But how am I to do this? How am I to keep Christ in my subconscious, in my reflex-reactions even when I’m sleeping or working or watching a move? How am I to be a Christian by default as well as determination?

The key is to maintain a rhythm, a heartbeat of disciplined prayer, in which I encounter Christ regularly, deliberately, and consciously. The spinoff of these times, as you will see in the character of any older person who has spent a great deal of their lives contemplating Jesus, is that His presence thereby moves by a process of osmosis from the conscious into the subconscious mind. As we open the door, again and again, to Christ, He comes in day by day and eats with us, laughs with us, shares with us, until we acquire His mannerisms and know His very thoughts. A season of 24-7 prayer can be a useful tool for bringing Christ consciously back into the midst of our ongoing lives as individuals and as communities. And prayer rooms are an interesting expression of God’s intention, which has always been to walk in continual communion with His people.

But just as no person could or should spend every waking moment in a 24-7 prayer room, so we must understand that the prayer room is an expression of the continual communion between God and His people, but it is not the same thing. The ultimate 24-7 prayer room is the human heart fully surrendered to God and not a room full of coffee mugs and hand-drawn pictures!

What we want to do, in Wesley’s words, is live lives of prayer as “should filled with love and the desire to please God.” So the place of prayer creates the moment of conscious disciplined prayer that then enables me to live prayerfully in front of my VDU screen, or while teaching a six-teen-year-old to drive, or working at a check-out or whatever job I do. We don’t want to withdraw people from society to live in spiritual bubbles of perpetual prayer; rather we want to immerse ourselves in society, having immersed ourselves in the Spirit – in the world, and yet full of God and overflowing.”

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mobile House of Prayer! Tabernacle within!

Man, I duno about you but…..I feel uncomfortable. I feel challenged. I feel convicted.

God, give us the grace to see the grace and to walk in the grace!

Love, miss, and thankful for you all! God bless!

-John

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